For many young adults, finding the appropriate work-life balance can be a struggle. When you add in a cancer diagnosis, that balance is thrown even more off-kilter. No matter where you are in your education or job search, there is an organization that can help you conquer the uncertainties and figure out your next step. Cancer and Careers is a non-profit organization that gives cancer patients a wealth of information, education, and (free!) online resources to help you navigate the workplace. Associate Director of Programs, Chrissy Brennan works to develop the resources that provide expert work-related advice to those within the cancer community. Check out some of Chrissy’s encouragement and insights!
The Top Ten Things YACCtors Should Know About the Job Search
- Be the best candidate (not the best candidate with cancer). Chrissy explains, “So much of what we do is to try to get cancer survivors to focus on the skills that they bring to the table.” You’ve already impressed the employer enough to bag an interview, so now it’s up to you to present yourself as the most savvy and qualified person for the job!
- Brand yourself. Consider the image you’re presenting to employers through your LinkedIn account and other forms of social media. Even in cyberspace, you’ve got to put your best foot forward.
- Know your stuff and plan ahead. Generally speaking, you have no legal obligation to share your diagnosis during an interview. That being said, you should do what feels right to you! Depending on where you are in the job hunt, you might feel differently about what information you would like to share. If you’re already employed when you are diagnosed, it’s important to know what the company’s policy is regarding sick time or paid time off so that you can manage your treatment appropriately. In the case that you can continue working without disclosing your diagnosis, that’s okay too!
- Get advice from a pro. Cancer and Careers offers an online career coaching board as a great way to get personalized and timely advice. Log on to see what questions others have asked too!
- Don’t worry about the gaps. Maybe your diagnosis kept you out of school for a bit, or you couldn’t continue working during your treatment. In today’s job market, tons of young adults take their own gap years to travel, serve, or just to figure things out. Chrissy explains that this has evened the playing field for job-searching young adults. You’re not the only one with gaps in your resume, so don’t stress about having to justify them. Just be prepared to answer that question, so you aren’t caught off guard.
- Cultivate relationships. Get to know your boss and coworkers, and understand the culture of your workplace. It’s easier to call on those people for support when you’ve already developed relationships with them.
- Everyone has their own journey. If you’re still in school or looking for your first job when you’re diagnosed, don’t compare yourself to your peers who are at other points in the process. If you are employed when you are diagnosed, be open to the changes and transitions that might occur. Remember that your first job doesn’t have to be your lifelong career.
- Listen to your body (and your doctor!). Together you can determine how best to handle the balancing act of interviewing, working, and treatment– especially when you’re not feeling 100%.
- There are tons of places to look for help. Cancer and Careers offers a series of helpful webinars on topics such as: managing long-term stress, building an effective LinkedIn profile, handling health insurance, and how to transition between careers, among many others. As a young adult, it’s likely that you’re constantly online anyway, so these are great resources to tap into.
- Your future employer is trying their best too. Cancer and Careers provides services specifically for managers and employers, giving them the information they need to be more conscientious and responsive to the needs of their employees who have cancer.
To implement this advice, visit the Cancer and Careers website to see their comprehensive programs.
In addition to her involvement in the development of these resources, Chrissy oversees Cancer and Careers’ annual national and regional conferences. The fifth annual national conference will be held in New York City in June, where attendees will explore the challenges facing cancer patients and survivors in the workforce. For those of you in the Midwest or on the West Coast, be on the lookout for their upcoming regional conferences.
Chrissy Brennan will be co-presenting at the April 18th Cancervention. Her workshop will focus on connecting the YACC community to Cancer and Careers resources as well as offering advice about how to manage your online brand.